Trials and Tribulations of Trawling | Gyre Expedition
After a very productive day in St. George’s on Wednesday, The Ocean Cleanup‘s multi-level trawl was assembled and improved based on their brief tests in Rotterdam Harbor and the crew was well practiced in deploying and recovering it in the calm waters of St. George’s Harbor. This morning we left the customs dock full of vim and vigor, ready for a day of science and sailing. Unfortunately, nature had different plans. We motored down to the south side of the island to deploy the trawl for the first time at sea. The seas were a bit rough, 3-5 feet, with about 15-20 kts of wind, but all went smoothly as the crew performed their rehearsed jobs, carefully lifting it off the foredeck, over the rail, and into the water. Then, disaster struck!
The trawl wouldn’t sink, and as it was rocked by the seas, soon became tangled in it’s own tow ropes, precluding any attempts to tow it. We lifted it back aboard for some modifications, and a heroic effort by the fore-deck crew safely untangled it and got it back on board. We headed further out to sea as Boyan and Allard worked away, snipping aluminum and cutting bolts, but the seas soon took their toll on the crew, and by the time we were ready to re-deploy the trawl, half of the team was hanging over the rail with seasickness as the seas and wind increased. We decided to cut our losses for the day and make some mileage south, setting sail on a rip-snorting broad reach. As of dinner the crew is slowly starting to gain their sea legs and recover, and if the weather cooperates, we’re ready to deploy the trawl tomorrow morning.